No single feature connected with the landscape development of a property is so important as the lawn. We speak here of a lawn principally in the sense of an open grass plot, not in the composite sense of turf and plantings that we often think of when the term "lawn" is used. Possibly the old English term "greensward" would be a better word to use to describe a lawn in its single meaning, and we may revert to its use occasionally to keep the thought fixed.
The lawn is the base that we must work on to make a pleasing landscape picture. It is the central feature and requires strict attention to all details. It is the element in landscape gardening that continually lends or takes. It is framed by pleasing shrubbery borders and, in turn, frames lovely vistas. Made perfectly level, and hedged in tightly with border plantings, the whole property looks cramped and contracted. Given gentle slopes and slight depressions, and allowed to run off here and there, a feeling of expanse is created. A house set lower than the street level may, by care in the lawn grading, be made to appear much higher than it is. In these and in many other ways does the lawn enter largely into the best landscape development.
Good greenswards are not often met with, and the majority of failures may be traced to lack of forethought in the making, that is, lack of forethought in the physical construction. Too often soil and seed alone enter into the question and no thought of drainage or future upkeep. Such lawns are never a success and can never be improved unless torn up and a fresh start made.
Let us look well, then, to a right beginning, so that our finished lawn will be a unison of the proper relation to house, best drainage and construction, proper seeding, and ease of upkeep. In order to do this it is essential that we familiarize ourselves thoroughly with all existing physical conditions before the work is started.
Fig. 65. - Cross section showing proper grading of portion around a residence located on ground ascending from the highway. - See page 67.
Before the excavation of the cellar is made all the top soil, which extends to a depth of from four to twelve inches, should be removed and stacked in convenient piles for future use. It is well, too, to remove the surface soil for a distance of fifteen to twenty-five feet beyond the lines of all the buildings, as the construction work is apt to destroy all the soil close by.
This important feature is often overlooked, for, as a general rule, the landscape gardener is not called in for advice until the residence and other buildings have been completed.
Very frequently, too, houses are not properly situated as regards the elevation of the floor level above the surrounding grades of the ground. It has been the author's experience that a large percentage of the residences have been set entirely too low. It is very much better to err in the opposite direction, as height may be overcome by a proper planting at the base of the house in case there is not a sufficient amount of soil available to make the necessary fill.
A LAWN DESCENDING FROM A HIGHWAY.
Fig. 66. - Cross section showing proper grading around a residence located on ground descending from the highway. - See page 67.
Fig. 67. - A section through foundation wall showing the revised grade at the point where the natural grade slopes toward the house. The line CC is the line of the natural grade; the line BB is the revised surface grade; the line AA is the revised sub-grade. An agricultural tile is provided at the base of the well to prevent seepage running into the cellar..
Fig. 68. - A section showing the construction of a dry well for surface water. - See page 68.